Small jibs and loose boom vangs were the order of the day as the RC 44 Valencia Cup got underway here in a pumping sea breeze that topped out at 20 knots.
Despite the strong wind off Malvarrosa Beach, the professional crews threw the light-displacement boats around with seeming ease.
In a day that saw seven flights and 28 match races completed, three crews made it through the first five flights undefeated. But only Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis escaped unscathed.
“We started well enough today and the boat was going well through the water,” said Artemis skipper Terry Hutchinson, who finished the day at 6-0. “We had our best day boathandling, and we needed it today.”
Three other teams finished the day with 4-1 records including Russell Coutts and the BMW Oracle Racing team, Cameron Appleton’s Team Aqua and James Spithill’s 17. Rounding out the top five is Igor Lah’s Ceeref at 3-1 with Rod Davis as skipper.
“We had a good day considering we weren’t able to practice yesterday,” said Davis, who suffered a slight injury when the mainsheet grazed his head. “We went in loose and are quite happy. The boys have been on the boat a long time and that was helpful today.”
The day started mild with an ESEerly wind around 12 knots. But with the temperature inland topping out at 90 degrees, it quickly turned wild when the wind shifted to the southeast and built to 16 to 18 knots, with gusts up to 20 knots.
The race committee ordered the small jibs for the fourth flight of races, and VIP spectators were no longer allowed aboard to avoid the risk of injury during transfer from chase boat to race boat.
Corresponding with the increase in wind strength was an increase of incidents. Upwards of eight penalties were issued, three spinnakers ripped, one jib battered and one steering system damaged.
A couple of crews were forced to retire from races due to the damage, but for those who finished you would think the day was a walk in the park.
“This was one of the windiest days we’ve had match racing, but they’re spectacular boats. They come alive downwind,” Hutchinson said.
“My guys did a great job getting me out of trouble today,” said Appleton. “I was the one causing the trouble.”
The match racing portion of the RC 44 Valencia Cup continues tomorrow with another seven flights planned. Thursday is a scheduled practice day for the fleet racing portion of the regatta, which runs Friday through Sunday.
RC 44 Valencia Cup (Match racing, after seven of 14 flights)
1. Artemis / Terry Hutchinson (SWE) 6-0
2. BMW ORACLE Racing / Russell Coutts (USA) 4-1
2. Team Aqua / Cameron Appleton (UAE) 4-1
2. 17 / James Spithill (USA) 4-1
5. Ceeref / Rod Davis (SLO) 3-1
6. No Way Back / Pieter Heerema and Ray Davies (NED) 3-3
7. Team Sea Dubai / Markus Weiser (UAE) 2-4
8. Katusha / Paul Cayard (RUS) 1-3
9. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team / Tommaso Chieffi (ITA) 1-4
10. AEZ RC44 Sailing Team / Christian Binder (AUT) 0-5
10. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero / José Maria Ponce (ESP) 0-5